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The Lancaster Drug Court Program Essay

2432 words - 10 pages

Needs Assessment:
Addiction is a complex phenomenon in today’s society. Many researchers view addiction as a disease of the brain that is influenced by genetic and environmental factors (Lessenger & Roper, 2007). Sixteen percent of the United States population, ages twelve and older are affected by addiction (Volow & Li, 2005). The government’s method of addressing addiction has changed over the years in attempts to treat this disease, however, no method is entirely perfect (Lessenger & Roper, 2007). Addiction can affect any person regardless of age, gender, or economic status (Lessenger & Roper, 2007). The traditional method of addressing addiction was to refer addicts to the criminal justice system (Lessenger & Roper, 2007). Legislatures resorted to mandatory minimum sentences for dealing with drug addicts (Lessenger & Roper, 2007). Addiction used to be viewed as a crime and not as a disease. The prisons and jails were not able to accommodate the high numbers of prisoners and therefore they were forced to release the prisoners (Lessenger & Roper, 2007). In the 1990’s the government started to realize that the number of addicts was not decreasing but instead increasing and therefore they started to resort to treatment rather than punishment. They started placing the addicts in court-ordered treatment facilities (Lessenger & Roper, 2007). One of these court-ordered treatment facilities is the Lancaster drug court. According to the United States Census Bureau the majority of the individuals that resided in Lancaster County in 2012 were white (91.3%) and approximately 10% of the population between 2007 and 2011 where below the poverty level (2013). In 2006, 77 participants were enrolled in the Lancaster Drug Court program. 63.6% were male, 20.8% were black, and 64.9% were white (Mahaffy, 2006).
The target population for the Lancaster Drug Court is adult, non-violent offenders who are diagnosed with a substance abuse problem and reside in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Ashworth, 2012). Individuals who are incarcerated in the Lancaster prison can apply to the drug court program. Participants are accepted after they have successfully completed the screening, assessment, and team review process on a first come first serve basis (Ashworth, 2012). The Lancaster Drug Court is a program within the criminal justice system that is funded by the state of Pennsylvania (Franco, 2010). The mission of the Lancaster drug court is to “improve public safety and change the lives of offenders by providing a cost efficient means of reducing substance abuse related offenses and addiction.”(Ashworth, 2012). The Lancaster drug court program is divided into four different goal categories. The first goal-- to improve public safety-- is achieved by the court more intensively supervising the offenders, involving the offenders with treatment early on in the program, imposing immediate sanctions for offenders violating court orders, and conducting educational...

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